Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) causes morbidity in chickens and exhibits zoonotic potential. Understanding host transcriptional responses to infection aids the understanding of protective mechanisms and serves to inform future colibacillosis control strategies. Transcriptomes of spleen and peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs) of the same individual birds in response to APEC infection were compared to identify common response patterns and connecting pathways. More than 100 genes in three contrasts examining pathology and infection status were significantly differentially expressed in both tissues and similarly regulated. Tissue-specific differences in catalytic activity, however, appear between birds with mild and severe pathology responses. Early expression differences, between birds with severe pathology and uninfected controls, in the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway in PBLs precede spleen responses in the p53 and cytokine-cytokine receptor pathways. Tissue bianalysis is useful in identifying genes and pathways important to the response to APEC, whose role might otherwise be underestimated in importance.